• “I’m not lonely, I’m just alone…”

    Haruka Kanazawa walked along the wet dirt of the road out of Kaine, the quiet little Hokkaido town where her orphanage was located. There were no sounds except for the crickets and the whispering of the grass on the fields, as the warm spring breezes shook the dew from the wild flowers that grew among them. The smell of the fields kept bringing back memories of him…The same breeze lifted her long black hair away from her dark green eyes, and swished her long night dress against her legs. In the sky, a full moon shone brightly. Its light seemed so cold now. Why did people die because of her? Mom and Dad had died because of her. She hadn’t been feeling well, and her parents were rushing her to the doctor. It was raining really hard and they had been driving too fast…they never saw the truck. They were killed instantly. And it had been all her fault. Now she caused another person’s death. Hiroshi Kumagai…He was another orphan at the orphanage and had been her best friend; no….more than just a friend. He had started as her friend, and then she had slowly fallen in love with him. But she never got to tell him. He was dead. He had died yesterday and the one thing she couldn’t say was goodbye...

    “Haru-chan! Haru-chan, come on!” Hiroshi called as he ran through the field ahead with his usual grin on his face.

    “Hiro-kun! Wait!” Haruka called back. Suddenly she tripped and fell on her face.

    “Ah! Haruka-chan!” Hiroshi cried, turning and running back to her side his grin falling into a worried look. “Are you okay?!” he asked pulling her back to her feet.

    “Y-Yeah, I’m fine.” Haruka replied shakily. Suddenly thunder crackled overhead.

    “Great.” Hiroshi sighed unhappily. “I wanted to stay outside longer. But now we have to go in.” He grabbed her hand. “Come on; let’s go before we get rained on.” He said smiling at her, and heading back the way they came. Soon, they were running through the woods. The rain was pouring, and the wind was wailing. It was just like the night her parents died. She was very scared. So scared she was crying. Hiroshi was holding her hand tightly, pulling her forward.

    “Don’t worry, Haruka-chan!” he shouted back to her over the wind. “We just have to cross the road and over the hill and we’ll be back at the orphanage!”

    They started running across the road, when suddenly a sharp light glared into their eyes from around the corner in the road and a loud screeching and honking filled their ears. Haruka screamed. Hiroshi cried out and wrapped his arms protectively around Haruka. There was a big thud, a flash of red and a stabbing pain, then darkness. Next thing Haruka knew she had woken up in a hospital bed. According to the clock on the other side of the room, it was now 12:00 A.M. Suddenly Yamanaka-sensei, Haruka’s guardian from the orphanage, rushed in and the next thing Haruka knew she was wrapped-up in a tight hug. Other children from the orphanage were gathered around her bed asking questions and crying and she couldn’t hear what any of them were saying and frankly she didn’t care. All she could think about was where Hiroshi was, was he okay, and what happened to them.

    “Yamanaka-sensei!” Haruka cried out over the rest of the caterwauling. Yamanaka-sensei wiped her eyes and motioned for the others to be quiet.

    “Yes?” she said sniffling.

    “What happened? Where’s Hiroshi-kun? Is he okay?” the questions came tumbling out and Haruka could feel tears welling up in her eyes, from fear and stress.

    “Haruka-chan, its okay, please don’t cry.” Yamanaka-sensei said soothingly. “It’s alright. You two were hit by a car. But, you’re alright. You’re injures were minimal thanks to Hiroshi-kun. The doctor said it looked like he shielded you from the impact. He used his body as a shield. He’s was a hero…” Yamanaka-sensei finished before breaking into tears again.

    “Wait…What do you mean “was”?!” Haruka asked desperately, not sure if she wanted to know the answer. She could hear whimpering and stifled cries from the other children, and she was already guessing what was wrong and was silently praying it was not true. “Yamanaka-sensei!” Haruka pleaded tears sliding down her cheeks. “Please tell me he’s not-…” Haruka started.

    “Haruka-chan…I’m so sorry….Hiroshi-kun’s dead…” Yamanaka-sensei sobbed out. Haruka froze in shock, the tears still slipping down her face. “N-No…It can’t be…It can be true!!” Haruka cried trying to scramble from her bed.

    “No, Haruka-chan!” somebody cried and she felt someone grab her. She struggled against the hard grip of whoever was holding her, and then she saw a nurse come in with a needle. She tried to squirm away, but the needle was pushed into her arm and the plunger pushed down. Then everything went black. When she woke again, her room was dark and quiet; everyone long gone. Haruka sat up and quietly snuck out the window beside her bed.

    That had been an hour ago. Why did he have to die? They had been so close. She looked up at the sky, which she had always looked at with Hiroshi. A shooting star fell from the heavens, gracing Haruka with its light. If someone had said, “make a wish”, she would have wished for Hiroshi to come back. She was lost without him. But, Haruka knew where she was going. She was going to a place where nobody would die for her anymore. A place she could be with Hiroshi-kun, and Mom and Dad. A place she wouldn’t feel pain anymore; the gorge. The rocks hurt her bare feet as she climbed the rocky trail to the gorge. She didn’t care though. It didn’t matter. Nothing mattered anymore. Finally she got there. She stood on the edge looking down and felt her resolve break a little. What if she didn’t die as soon as she jumped? What if she survived only to die a slow painful death at the bottom? She didn’t want that. She wanted it quick and painless, so there would be no more suffering. She suspected she would feel some pain, but she hoped it wasn’t that much. She bit her lip and closed her eyes and jumped. The wind rushed past her as she fell. She waited for the jolt and the pain, but she felt nothing. Even the wind had stopped. Was she dead?

    Suddenly she heard somebody say her name. She opened her eyes and saw, that somehow she was floating about 100 feet off the gorge’s floor.

    “What the heck?!” Haruka cried out, baffled. She heard somebody’s stifled laughter and turned to see, Hiroshi? “H-Hiroshi-kun? Is that really you?” Haruka whispered unable to believe her eyes.

    “The one and only.” He replied. His voice sounded like it was coming from far away, and now that she got a good look all his features were see-through and wispy, like he was made of mist or something. Haruka then knew he wasn’t alive. He was a ghost. Tears welled up in her eyes again, but Hiroshi brushed them away. His touch was cold, but achingly familiar. Suddenly Hiroshi floated her up to the top of the gorge and set her down well away from the edge on safe ground. She could only stare at him in wonder like a numbskull.

    “Hello, Haruka-chan? Anybody home?” Hiroshi teased her with his usual big grin, while waving a hand in front of her face.

    “Stop it, Hiroshi-kun! Quit treating me like a little kid!” Haruka whined at him, pulling away from his hand.

    “Sorry, I couldn’t help it. You’re such a ditz.” He said laughing.

    “I am not!” Haruka replied angrily tears welling up again. Hiroshi saw this and stopped joking around.

    “Haruka-chan? Why were you jumping of that cliff? Are you okay?”

    “Of course, I’m not okay! What do you care anyway?! After everything-!” Haruka broke off unable to go on.

    “Haruka-chan…” Hiroshi started, as he took her hand.

    “Don’t! I don’t want to hear it!” Haruka cried, pulling away. “How could you?! You said that you would stay with me! And then you go and die! And when I try to follow, you stop me?! Do you not want me around?! Do you want to cause me more pain?! I hate you! I-…..I’m lonely….” Haruka sobbed out.

    “Haruka-chan, don’t you get it? I died because I was protecting you. You mean the world to me and I didn’t want to lose you. I love you. I have for a very long time, and I always will. No matter what happens I will never leave you. Not even death will separate us… I don’t want you to follow me, because I love you, and I want you to live. I want you to grow up and fulfill your dream and fall in love, get married, have kids, and grow old with the one who was truly meant for you. That’s why I died for you, and that’s why I saved you just now.” Hiroshi said to her, his deep brown eyes locked on her green ones.

    “Hiroshi-kun, the truth is I love you too. That’s why I couldn’t bear to be without you. That’s why I tried to follow you. I’m sorry, my parents and your deaths….they were all my fault…” Before, she could finish he pulled her into a tight embrace. It was cold but, ever so welcome.

    “No Haruka-chan, you must never think that!” He cried. “I love you, Haruka-chan. That’s why I died for you, but I don’t blame you. It was by my own choice. And I’m sure your parents felt the same way. It’s not your fault… I love you so much, Haruka-chan, but our love wasn’t meant to be. Please forget about me, and find someone else.” Hiroshi whispered in her ear.

    “No!” Haruka cried pushing him away. “I can’t forget, I won’t forget, I love you too much!” “Haruka-chan” he started. “No I-!” She was cut off as he kissed her. The kiss was cold, but very sweet, but as soon as it had come it was gone.

    “I will always love you, Haruka-chan, but I want you to be happy and not go on pining after me, because I’m dead. Please find someone who loves you with all his heart and soul, just as I did. Someone you love just as much…”

    “But, you’re the only one like that for me!” Haruka interjected desperately. Hiroshi just smiled a sad, wistful smile.

    “Thank you for saying that.” He said quietly. Then a warm light shone on them. Haruka turned. It was the sunrise. “Haruka, it’s almost time for me to go…to the afterlife….” Hiroshi said quietly to her.

    “Please don’t go, Hiroshi-kun.” Haruka whispered. “I don’t want you to leave me.”

    “I can never leave you, Haruka-chan. I promise you, I will stay with you in your heart, just think of me now and again.” He whispered back. “Please promise me one thing, Haruka-chan.”

    “What’s that?” Haruka asked. “Please don’t follow me. Live your life and don’t follow me, until God calls you home. I promise you, when your time comes I’ll be waiting for you up in heaven…Promise me….” Hiroshi whispered as he faded away.

    “Yes, I promise Hiroshi-kun! I will become strong, and I will live. I will not die!” Haruka cried to the sky, after him. Then she stood and walked back down the gravel path. As soon as she got back again, everything would start changing, for better or for worse she didn’t know, but she did know one thing. She would have the strength to face it now, because Hiroshi and her parents were watching over her and they would never be apart again.